Monday, November 02, 2009

Enter in Rear

Yesterday was a true test for those who wagered on favorites, as some of you are likely still reeling from getting backdoored on a handful of outcomes. New Orleans, Memphis, Minnesota and Atlanta all managed to squeeze just inside the spread, though if you grabbed Lakers at the opening line of -7.5, you were still able to take home the victory.

Perhaps more than anything else, yesterday showed that oddsmakers are really starting to get a bead on NBA teams one week into the season. Just examine, for a moment, the difference between the listed spread and the final outcomes. Hell, we'll do it game by game. Orlando beat Toronto by 9 with a spread of 6 (3); Boston topped New Orleans by 10 with a spread of 11.5 (1.5); Miami offed Chicago by 8 on a spread of 4.5 (3.5); Phoenix outran Minnesota 120-112 with a spread of 13 (5); Denver was giving 11 to Memphis and won by 10 (1); the Lakers were favored by 7.5 or 8.5 depending on time of day, and won by 8 (0.5). The only contest that had a final outcome that differed by more than 5 was the Portland-OKC hideous mess of a game that saw Portland, a 3-point favorite, win by 9. And yes, that game had a final total of 157. Stab me when it's over.

These spreads make me feel that much better for skipping NBA last night, as I was unable to isolate a clear winner in any of the contests. Obviously, Portland would have been a solid play, but at least half of these games were a coin-flip from covering one way or the other.

Sports Wagering

Bobcats/Nets - This game features the downright ugly total of 177, and Charlotte is giving up 7 points at home. My initial thoughts are, really, how can anyone think Charlotte is good enough to give up 7 points to ANY team in the NBA right now? Yeah, the Nets are pretty bad, getting lambasted by the undermanned Wizards in our nation's capital, but are they really so horrid that they'll get beat by 8 or more in Charlotte? I'm not sure, but given the talent level on both of these teams is pretty close, I'd be leaning to the underdog. Both teams are undervalued right now, coming off losses, so we'll see how the public reacts. This may be one of those situations where the line is this high because we're dealing with a pair of teams that oddsmakers haven't quite figured out yet, or we could be getting suckered. Never fear, I'm on the case! In terms of the exceedingly low total, you have to believe this one is staying under. We're not going to see totals in the 170's this early in the season unless one, or both of the involved teams are expected to really stink it up. I can already see the public going apeshit about the Over, and we'll likely fade them heading into gametime.

Hornets/Knicks - This line is currently OFF, so we'll toss an update in when some numbers emerge. Much like we do for all games without a line, we'll try to analyze the matchups and come to a prediction. First, the home team -- the Knicks have looked downright awful this year, home and road alike. Philadelphia cruised into town and leveled the Knicks over the weekend, and now they get to do battle with a Hornets team in a state of semi-disarray. New Orleans covered in Boston by a hair, losing by 10 to a vastly superior Celtics squad, and are now 1-2 on the season. I believe the Hornets will be giving up a few points on the road, despite being in the midst of a back-to-back, and I also believe this is the game the Knicks finally play a bit better. I can't tell you who'll win, but I do believe that at long last, the Knicks will not be 15-20 points behind when we get to the 4th quarter. In terms of the total, I'd expect something a shade over 200, perhaps in the 205 range.

Jazz/Rockets - Utah by 8.5 at home with a total of 206. We know the Rockets are remaking themselves as a running team this year, but we also know the Jazz are tough cookies in their home building. I'm not sure how you can be an NBA fan and not be impressed by the Rockets getting off to a decent start. They are generally lower on the talent scale than their opponents, but as he's done for many years, Coach Adelman is finding a way to maximize his pieces. I think the 8.5 point spread is pretty close to the final margin of victory, and I generally don't like to grab a side in a game where both teams are slightly overvalued. Still, if I had to choose, I'd have to ride with the Rockets and points. They are showing a never-give-up attitude that could net bettors a backdoor cover, even if they fall behind early. In terms of the total, it looks high, but I'd think it sneaks over by 3 or 4 points to closer to 210.

Kings/Grizzlies - The Kings are the favorite in this one! Yeah, it's only by 1.5 points, but this is a momentous day for the fetid bunch in Sac-town. The total is 202.5. Yes, the stars certainly aligned for this spread, but I'm sure they'll celebrate it nonetheless. Memphis played in Denver yesterday, losing by 10 in a wildly high-scoring affair; the Kings have always been a significantly better home team than road and oddsmakers figure Memphis doesn't have a third consecutive offensively stud-o-rific performance in the tank. I think we'll likely see the betting public fairly split on this game, since it is easily the least interesting NBA square-off since the Kings played the Thunder last week. It's not a trap, at least on the spread side of things, as there is the general belief (and an accurate one, at that) that the Kings will play their frickin' asses off to try to get win number one in front of the cowbell ringing hometown fans. The total is where folks might be able to make some money. The Kings and Grizzlies have both been playing games that have flown over the total, and I'd say rather surprisingly, this total is set at ONLY 202.5. You just know the public is going to be throttling the Over because of the two teams' recent play, and we'll take a long look at the Under, since both teams are due for a cold shooting night.

Clippers/Wolves - Seriously? The Clippers are favored by 8.5? I'm just not sure I can get this pill down. The Clippers, despite covering the spread against the Lakers (and the Suns, if you go by CLOSING line), are still without their first win of 2009. This is clearly the game where everyone figures they'll get that initial "W". I hate to join the coach-firing squad, but I think Dunleavy has run his course. He looks beyond stressed, and almost appears resigned to another stinker of a year with one of the NBA's most pathetic franchises. It's time for some fresh blood. But as long as he's around, the Clippers will continue to be an unexciting group that barely covers SOME underdog spreads in LA. As a favorite today, however, we have to look at things from a new perspective. Minnesota is coming off a loss (but an ATS win) last night in Phoenix, so the line-setters felt the Wolves would be tired. I'm not sure those games against the Suns take the same energy out of a team as a beat 'em up-type contest with the Spurs, Cavs or Celtics, so I throw the fatigue factor out the window. The bigger concern is that the Wolves are now on day two in the Pacific time zone, when the adrenaline wears off and some lag sets in. The Clippers got spanked by the Mavericks here at Staples Center on Saturday, so they're not doing much to inspire confidence, either. I think they hit some shots against a porous Wolves defense, and I believe the final score of this one falls just under the total with the Clippers unable to cover.

Fantasy Advice

Channing Frye - Yes, Frye gets the double-post this early in the season. Right now, he is filling up the stat-sheet as Phoenix's center that DOESN'T clog up the lane. He is complementing Stoudemire's inside presence with an absolute ton of threes, though his rebounding numbers won't be all that impressive since he works the perimeter.

Ryan Gomes - A behemoth 23/15 night for Gomes has put him back on the radar. Of course, when Love returns, his rebound numbers will decrease, and games against the Suns are always fantasy gold mines, but I believe Gomes will put up consistent numbers most of the season, if indeed he is finding his shooting stroke.

More important than the two guys that deserve to be picked up are the guys that are merely fill-ins. I'm sure a ton of sports experts are waving their arms and yelling at you to pick up guys like J.J. Redick, Udonis Haslem, and Steve Blake, but I'm here to save you the trouble. Redick will return to his normal role once Vince Carter returns, Haslem will be thoroughly inconsistent, though he'll likely get a few points and rebounds on a nightly basis (and NOTHING else), and Blake will continue to fight with Andre Miller for playing time in Portland. Stay away, you'll just be dropping those 3 guys within the week, anyway.

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